Monday, June 09, 2008

Further Thoughts on Posey plus Molina Public Cry and Interesting Draft Picks

I am still a bit embarrassed about my initial reaction to Posey. Not only was he considered a #1 pick by some, but he is the prototypical position player that Sabean loves: athletic, can play a number of positions, great defensive skills. At least I saw the errors of my ways soon afterward, some people still would rather have Smoak.

While I can sympathize, clearly, at this moment, Buster Posey was the correct pick. He was highly rated and ranked, with some thinking him deserving of being the number one pick overall. He filled a position of strong long-term need for the Giants.

It is particularly critical to get a catcher who can provide gold-glove caliber defense since the Giants future is so tied to our pitching staff, and especially so since Jackson Williams is struggling mightily to hit his weight in A-ball Augusta and thus does not look like he'll be making it to the majors for at least another 4 years plus. And it is rare to see a catcher with strong offensive and defensive skills so high in the draft, they don't grow on trees, making Posey a rarity in any draft.

Oddly enough, there was one in the last draft in Matt Weiters. Weiters would have been nice last season - there was talk that he might fall to the Giants but no such luck - but there is still questions on whether he can stay at the catcher's position with his size; this was an issue with the Twin's Mauer, which he has dispelled and thus give encouragement that Weiters could do likewise, but that will hang over his head much like Lincecum's size will always hang over his.

There is no such concerns over Posey, however, he could be our catcher for a long time once he develops and makes it up to the majors and some think he could do the same playing SS for us as well, which would be great should Williams ever show he can hit in the majors..

And a player like Smoak is typically available when you pick high in the draft as the Giants appear headed to doing again in the 2009 draft. And we still have need at 3B as well, so we are not limited to getting just a power-hitting 1B next year, plus everyone can always use a power hitting SS, should one be available. Examples include Alvarez, T.Beckham, and Smoak in 2008, Moustakas, Vitters, Wieters in 2007, Longoria in 2006, Upton, Gordon, Braun, and Tulowitski in 2005 (wow, that was a good year).

In addition, we already have a player like Smoak in our system in Villalona. While both look like they are good hitters with 40+ power potential and good defensivel abilities, both don't look like they can move to another position like LF. This will force the Giants to have to trade off one or the other away to fill other needs.

And we can see how that can turn out from the McCovey/Cepeda dilemma the Giants had years ago, or more recently with Texas when they had Teixiera but essentially traded away Travis Hafner and Adrian Gonzalez for nothing much, showing the risk of having two similar players at the same position. As I noted long ago in my article on Sabean's habit of focusing on pitcher, it is much harder to find a trading partner match when you have a position player to offer than when you have a pitcher to offer, for a good pitcher can fill up to 12 positions of need for a variety of teams, which expands the number of teams you can deal with, increasing the value you can derive from the trade both due to need and competitive bidding.

Molina Not Feeling the Love

Another fall-out from the Posey pick was Sabean's comment afterward about Molina's time with the Giants possibly ending soon since his contract is up after the 2009 season. Molina had a public complaint about that, his feelings were clearly hurt.

I think it was pretty clear that when Sabean was talking about Molina's "clock is winding down", he wasn't talking about his abilities as a ballplayer, particularly with him doing so well, but about his contract status. A lot of fans did not get that so I wanted to point it out. And despite how much a player will profess to love the team and say they want to stay - hello, David Bell - there is no guarantee that Molina will stay with the Giants at a price they want to pay for him. For instance, lets say after hitting like this, he wants a 3 year contract for $30M, there's no way the Giants will want to do that, particularly at his age, but then the result is no Molina, no starting catcher.

Also, I didn't think Molina was wussy enough to feel this way, much less air it publicly, but oh well. But his main complaint was that he thought he has done enough to deserve an extension, because he wants to feel the love, unlike at Anaheim and Toronto when they gave him no extensions.

And the thing is, this really had nothing to do with Molina. If anything, it was a public challenge by Sabean to Posey and his agents to get his signing done quickly and not drag it out to the August deadline, like many draftees did last season. He was basically saying time's (and opportunity) a-wasting if they are going to wait until the deadline to sign, just quibbling over a few hundred thousands or a million or two when he could be starting in the majors sooner than later if he signed immediately. And he threw out an olive branch, saying that a major league contract is not out of the question.

The thing is, with the youth movement, Molina is stupid if he thinks the Giants are planning on giving him an extention (as he seems to think he deserves) when with his outlier season this year, they will probably rather let him leave via free agency and hope they pick up two draft picks for him, presumably a late first rounder plus supplemental, because at his age, only a contender will pick him up most probably.

And there is no reason for the Giants to trade Molina, they have no strong or even decently average defensive catcher ready to come up and start for them, Holm is not that good defensively nor have I heard anything about his pitch-calling abilities. And to drive it home, none of the major prospect books thought enough of him to include him on the Giants top prospect list, including Baseball America. And I consider Alfonso done after two suspensions for PED usage. And Pablo Sandoval is still in Advanced A-ball in San Jose.

Sandoval could be ready to start by the 2009 season, though, so a trade in the winter is possible if he wants to make a big enough stink about it. But he's a gamer so he shouldn't, right? That's what Durham did, when Frandsen talked about taking 2B, Durham said "bring it on", he's not going to lose the position.

To sum up, Bengie shouldn't worry so much over a comment made more to give Posey and his agent a kick start to negotiations and signing and be happy that the Giants gave him a huge vote of confidence with his three year contract when probably most teams were probably offering less years as well as less dollars. If he's worried about the future, good, keep hitting and you don't really have to worry about your future, you just have to wonder where you will end up. Baseball is a travelling show typically for all except the greats, so that's not new news, hopefully.

Draft Aftermath

Two interesting historical tidbits from the second day of the draft that I wanted to note.

First is that the Giants drafted Tyler Thompson, OF, and son of Giants' fan favorite, Robby Thompson. He is a high schooler in Florida and was selected in the 41st round. No news on the chances of signing him, don't know if he was back that far because of college commits or lack of talent, though I guess I would assume the former.

Second is that they drafted Ryan Mantle, a right-handed-hitting outfielder from Missouri State, who is a third cousin of Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, in the 19th round. No pressure there!

In addition, they drafted a number of players with local connections:
  • UCLA shortstop Brandon Crawford (fourth round, Foothill High School, Pleasanton),
  • U.C. Davis right-handed pitcher Justin Fitzgerald (11th round, U.C. Davis and Cardinal Newman High School),
  • Cal State Chico (party on!) right-handed pitcher Kyle Woodruff (27th round, Cal State Chico, Leland High School and College of San Mateo) and
  • shortstop Abe Ruiz (47th round, Pacific Grove High School).

7 comments:

  1. I love the McCovey/Cepeda analogy but the Giants cannot afford to even think in that mode. I'm assuming that they picked Posey because they thought he was the most talented guy available. The paucity of field players available in the Giants system to me means that the probability of a logjam at 3rd or 1st is so small as to be unimportant unless you have two prospects rated identically in which case it would make sense to use this as a tiebreaker. This, I doubt. Posey was the best field player available, end of story. Let's not overthink this.

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  2. I liked the Giants' run on top high school prospects towards the end of the draft. They probably won't get any to sign and drop their college commitments but if they did, it would be a great steal. It doesn't cost anything and chances are the G's would've just forfeited they're final few picks anyways. I also liked some of the mid-round picks, a few guys with tremendous upside who had down years or were out of college for a season.

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  3. Yes, Sabean said that Alvarez and Posey were on the top of their list as the top ranked talent.

    Paucity don't mean a thing when you have someone like Villalona in your system, he is VERY highly rated in most rankings I've seen for top prospects in all of the majors. This for a 17 year old who had less than a full season of play in rookie ball. As much as it is the fan talking in me, it is a fact that players of his ilk and youth who advance faster up the minors than regular prospects.

    But I agree, I was probably overthinking things, as I am wont to do...

    Thanks for the comment jcormac.

    Matt, yes, I agree with you on that. Take a few chances with players who you ranked much higher, offer bonuses in that range for that talent, see what happens if they sign.

    Given how much of a crapshoot it is, it literally is like buying lottery tickets, so the more high quality tickets you buy in this draft, the sooner you find players worth playing in the majors.

    Or put another way, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that Prince (Fielder), so the more frogs you kiss, the faster you find that good player.

    Despite all the heat the fans have heaped on Sabean for his drafting, claiming the Giants are cheap, the Giants have always drafted all 50 rounds available to them (many teams quit long before that) and have always signed a number of free agents, like Accardo and Horwitz, as well.

    That picking of upside with negatives have been done before, drafting players like Brian Wilson after TJS or EME or Marcus Sanders. Just sometimes those negatives continues...

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  4. Your boy Misch needs to go somewhere else. All-in-all, he's been bad. Time to send him down. He's wasting our time right now.

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  5. Well, he's not my boy - though I'm probably old enough to have had a kid born when he was born (wow, time flies!) - but I agree, he needs to go down. He hasn't really pitched that badly when you look at his peripherals, but he is just getting battered around.

    Hey, that's what this time is for, bring someone up, see what he got, if it's good he stays, if it's not, you bring up the next guy. That's why Horwitz and Denker are up here, if Ortmeier and Bocock could have held their own batting, they would still be up here (I know, injury is why Horwitz was called up to replace Ortmeier, but his play really deserved a send down, only he is out of options and would have to go through waivers to send him down.)

    Horwitz might Wally Pip Ortmeier if he keeps on hitting like this. Someone compared Horwitz with Niekro, but Horwitz, from my memory, has been more of a pure hitter than Niekro ever was, and now that he appears to be developing power - I would love to interview him and ask how this year is different - he could force his way into the Giants outfield situation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maybe you should contact the Giants and see if you could qualify to do some press-type work for the blog and interview Horwitz. That would be cool.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That would be so totally cool!

    However, if they ignored my e-mails when I was volunteer writing for a website affiliated with Yahoo years ago, then I don't think my odds have improved now that I'm a solo crank. :^)

    But maybe I'll try to contact all the minor league teams again and see if they are any better - I was 2 for 5 there before.

    ReplyDelete

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